Longman anthology of world literature by women: 1875–1975

Longman anthology of world literature by women: 1875–1975

U/omm’sSmdres Inl. Printed in rhe USA. Forum, Vol. 14. No. 4, pp. 375-379, 1991 0277.S395/91 $3.00 + 00 ‘C 1991 Pergamon Press plc BOOK REVIEW...

113KB Sizes 0 Downloads 55 Views

U/omm’sSmdres Inl. Printed in rhe USA.



14. No.

4, pp.



0277.S395/91 $3.00 + 00 ‘C 1991 Pergamon Press plc


LITERTUREBYWOMEY: 1875-1975, edited by Marian Arkin and Barbara Shollar, 1274 pages. Longman, New York, 1989. US $25.56 paper.

the time she writes, lists her other works, and gives an overview of her literary reputation if such criticism is available. Yet readers would be lost if, before reading each selection they did not read the section “Women’s Literary Traditions: Regional Essays.” These essays, written by scholars/experts, provide readers with the regional and historical context necessary to understand the literature. Because the writers of these essays come from various backgrounds and perspectives-some experts on the countries and others experts in literature, some feminist literary critics and others traditionalists, and some citizens of the countries they are writing about and others expatriots or citizens of other countries-the approach and material included vary somewhat. Some essayists offer ample historical overviews of the social, political, and economic development of the countries whereas other limit themselves to providing annotated lists of women writing in the countries. Moreover, some essayists include elaborate bibliographies on both background of the country and literary criticism whereas others offer much briefer ones. However, even the scarcity of bibliographical entries following an essay stimulates readers to question why and, perhaps, to pursue additional research on their own. The only less-than-enthusiastic response readers sometimes report is that this anthology overwhelms them. For example, some teachers grapple with how to organize a course using it. Because the entries are arranged chronologically, writers from the same countries are not grouped together, nor are all poems, short stories, dramas, etc. However, following the regional essays, the editors include a list of writers and selections by region. In addition, some users of the anthology compile a list of selections arranged by thematic content, such as Childhood, Erotic Love, Young Womanhood, and so on. The response of feeling overwhelmed by both the volume and the range of subject matter written by women from many countries thus seems positive, because it jolts readers out of any notions they may hold that they cannot read or teach international women writers because their work is unavailable. This anthology challenges readers, both casual and academic, at the same time that it provides them with a matchless breadth and diversity of international women writers. ANNETTE BENNINCT~N MCELHINEY METROPOLITANSTATE COLLEGE U.S.A.


With extreme diligence and care, various scholars, critics, editors, translators, and other contributors to this monumental anthology have discovered, translated, and presented the words of many international women writers previously unknown and “buried at the crossroads,” to use Virginia Woolf’s words, in their individual countries. Because of its sheer breadth of content and scholarship, this text should be on the desks or bookshelves of a// serious scholars of literature. The compilation provides user-friendly materials for scholars and teachers at all levels of knowledge in terms of both feminist literacy criticism and intercultural studies. It includes a variety of genres ranging from frequently anthologized poetry, drama, short stories, and excerpts from novels to less frequently anthologized types such as journalistic essays, literary criticism, oral works, diaries, letters, and excerpts from autobiographies. These selections come from more than 325 women from such geographical regions as Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Austria and Germany, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, the Middle East, Portugal, the USSR, Scandinavia, Spain, Latin America, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the United States. Both the introduction to the anthology itself and the introductions to the individual authors are impressive. For those readers or teachers unfamiliar with the questions raised by feminists and proponents of multicultural education concerning canon formation, the editors explain the historical struggle inherent in trying to construct an international women’s literary canon. They explain the impact of patriarchal aesthetics, as well as the ethnocentric and national politics involved in doing so. They also suggest the challenge of trying to trace similarities in women’s writing such as a distinctly female language, female thematics, and female concern with the “body social-especially the relations between men and women. . ” At the same time, they allude to the unique strategies that women from various countries employ in their writing and the ways in which economic, social, cultural, and political conditions shape these strategies. A careful reading of this introduction plants various seeds of curiosity and raises important questions for exploration by readers. For those seeking additional information, the bibliography at the end of this introduction lists multiple resources. In addition, the biographical introduction immediately preceding each writer’s work provides pertinent material about the woman’s background, put her works into the context of what is happening in the country at

INTERPRETING WOMEN’S LIVES: FEMINIST THEORY AND PERSONAL NARRATIVES, edited by The Personal Narratives Group, 277 pages. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1989. US $39.95 cloth; US $14.95 paper. 375